Our 10th Anniversary Is In



Ten Things I’ve Learned After Ten Years at Vets Who Code

Ten Things I’ve Learned After Ten Years at Vets Who Code

Jun 03, 2024


As I reflect on a decade of leading Vets Who Code, the journey from a 27-year-old founder to a seasoned executive director has been nothing short of extraordinary. Over the years, I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge through my own career and by helping countless veterans and military spouses transition into software engineering. Here are ten valuable lessons I've learned during this time.

Document Your Journey

One of the most powerful tools for growth is documenting your journey. Whether you're self-taught, boot camp trained, or college-educated, sharing your learning process publicly can accelerate your career. By doing so, you not only track your progress but also inspire and educate others. This transparency builds a robust community around you.

Pair Programming

Engage in pair programming as much as possible. This collaborative approach accelerates your learning curve and prepares you for real-world job scenarios. The shared experience of problem-solving and code review enhances your skills and fosters a deeper understanding of coding practices.

Network Early and Often

Start networking from day one, regardless of your current expertise. Building relationships within the industry is crucial for long-term success. Attend meetups, join online communities, and stay connected with peers even after landing a job. Networking opens doors to opportunities and keeps you informed about industry trends.

The Value of Mentorship

Mentorship often outweighs formal education in today’s world of democratized learning resources. Finding a mentor who can guide you through the complexities of the tech industry can provide invaluable insights and accelerate your professional development.

Build Solutions, Not Just Projects

Focus on creating solutions that address real-world problems rather than merely completing projects. This mindset shift helps you gain practical, impactful experience and demonstrates your ability to apply knowledge in meaningful ways. Solutions-oriented thinking also makes you more attractive to potential employers.

Depth Over Breadth

When starting out, it's more beneficial to dive deep into a specific area rather than spreading yourself too thin. Mastering a particular skill set or technology can make you a subject matter expert, which is more advantageous than having superficial knowledge across many topics.

Understand Language Ecosystems

Delve into the ecosystems of the programming languages you use. Knowing the tools, libraries, and best practices within these ecosystems allows you to work more efficiently and solve problems more effectively. This comprehensive understanding can distinguish you from other developers.

Cultivate Adaptability

The tech industry is in a constant state of flux. Being adaptable is crucial to staying relevant and resilient amidst these changes. Embrace new technologies, methodologies, and perspectives to continually evolve with the industry.

Commit to Continuous Learning

Never stop learning. The rapid pace of technological advancements means there’s always something new to master. Commit to ongoing education through courses, certifications, and staying updated with the latest industry developments.

Focus on Personal Growth

Prioritize your growth by leveraging the best tools and practices within your field. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, and continually work on improving your skill set. Personal growth fuels professional success and ensures you remain at the top of your game.


My journey with Vets Who Code has been a blend of challenges, triumphs, and continuous learning. These ten lessons encapsulate the essence of what I've discovered over the past decade. Whether you're a budding software engineer or a seasoned veteran, I hope these insights will guide and inspire you on your path to success.

Join Us in Making a Difference If you believe in the power of coding to transform lives and want to support veterans and military spouses in their journey into tech, consider making a donation to Vets Who Code. Your contribution can help us provide the resources, mentorship, and training necessary to bridge the gap between military service and successful tech careers. Donate Now

Together, we can continue to empower those who have served our country to achieve their full potential in the tech industry.